Meet a Health Hero: Michele Redrow

Read more about CGI Racing's Michele Redrow, a semi-finalist in our 2012 Health Hero Challenge!

>> Vote in the Health Hero Challenge here!

Name: Michele Redrow

Occupation: Founder and co-owner, CGI Racing, and race director for the Philadelphia Women’s Triathlon, New Jersey State Triathlon and Unite Half Marathon.

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?

My motivation comes from the many athletes I deal with on a daily basis who compete in our races. There are so many people who have overcome health or life challenges, for whom every day is a major uphill battle. Every time I think I don’t feel like working out, I think of all these people and tell myself, “I am so lucky to be healthy and it is truly a gift that God has given me that I cannot take advantage of or waste, ever.” There is no reason or excuse why I shouldn’t always treat myself and my health as a gift from God.

My motivation also comes from my husband and partner, who has always encouraged me to not only stay healthy but also get out there and try new things that make staying healthy fun. He has instilled in me the desire to be healthy and that fitness and health should be part of every day just like eating and work.

What motivates me is my desire to always be better, look better and feel better. When you feel and look better and achieve goals you never thought you could, it impacts every aspect of your life in an incredibly positive way, and you pass that along to every person you meet. As they say, fitness is 10 percent physical and 9o percent mental. It is not just about looking better. It is about realizing how strong you are mentally and that when you set your mind to something, anything is possible.

Describe a health- or fitness-related turning point in your life.

I had a very serious bike crash in 2008 where I shattered my collarbone, broke my nose, had a concussion and 27 stitches in my face right over my eye, not to mention road rash from head to toe. I realize now that although I was pretty banged up (the trauma center couldn’t believe I didn’t break my neck), I was so lucky. It took about six months to get back on the horse (so to speak) and surgery to repair my collarbone, but I told myself if I healed I was gong to appreciate every day I was able to get out there and bike and run and enjoy life. My favorite mantra (I am big on mantras) at that time was, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” From that day on, I assure you I was even stronger (though, maybe slower) than before the crash.

What “policy” would you institute to make Philadelphia a healthier city?

I would start the “MOVEment” policy that shows people that working out and staying healthy does not have to be painful or boring. I would show them that if you have variety in what you do physically it is so much fin. Even more, I would show them that it is so easy to make sure that staying healthy/fit is a part of every single day.

The first thing I would do is put together a commission to pave a bike path along the waterfront of Philadelphia. I recently ran along the waterfront in New York City, and Philadelphia has so much more potential.

The MOVEment would start with our youth and create programs and nutrition initiatives that would have participants take part in a club/community, whose priority is to keep moving. There is no downside to being healthy; however, there is a huge downside to being unhealthy. The future of good health is in the hands of our youth.

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?

Making it a priority every day just like eating. But more than that, it’s to incorporate the racing aspect into my fitness regimen. When you have a race as a future goal, it forces you to stick to your workouts. After all, you set a personal goal for a race and you want to achieve that goal even if it is as simple as crossing that finish line. I have never stayed as committed to my fitness goals has I have over the past 15 years that I have been racing. I am not the fastest, I am not the slowest, but I am probably one of the happiest when I am racing.

What is your No. 1 piece of health-related advice or encouragement?

I, along with my husband, started the first-ever all women’s multisport race in 2006 with the Philadelphia Women’s Triathlon/Duathlon. Over the next five years, I made it my priority to inspire and encourage women into the multisport life. I wanted to constantly make more and more women see that it wasn’t just racing but that the race would change the way they look at life everyday. The race grew to be the largest in the region (we sold it in 2011) and since its inception more than 4,000 women were inspired to compete—not to mention the many, many more who came out to cheer them on. Additionally, I am on the board of USA Triathlon Mid-Atlantic, and in 2010 I started the USAT MA Women’s commission, which was established to educate and motivate the women about multisport. The commission has grown to more than 200 members and awards $3,500 in grants to women leaders in the industry. In 2012, CGI Racing will launch the Go Diva Endurance Series again, giving women a chance to encourage each other to stay healthy while accomplishing incredible goals. My health encouragement would be this: Inspire someone today to get healthy and stay fit. You’ll be glad you did.